Liam Neild (31) became the manager of Corbière Ward in the middle of December, when the growing number of cases meant the ward needed to be used for patients with Covid-19.
Having witnessed the severity of the disease first-hand, he expressed his frustration with Islanders who flouted the public-health guidance and allowed the virus to spread.
‘When the guidance came out to stop gatherings, I actually had a neighbour who was having a party,’ he said. ‘I was working on Corbière at the time so I decided to knock on his door and ask him if he wanted to come and have a look round the ward with me.’
In a further breach of the guidelines, staff in the ‘retail supply-chain’ failing to wear PPE and working while showing Covid symptoms last week, delayed the reopening of non-essential shops.
‘The longer people do it, [ignore the guidance] the more things will be put in place and the less “normally” we will live,’ said Mr Neild. ‘If people follow the guidance and the numbers go down like they are doing now, we can get back to some normality.
‘There’s only one hospital in the Island and we need to look after it and protect it as best we can, and the only way we can do that is by the public following the guidance.’
He added that the reality of the pandemic on the frontline was heartbreaking and that, with hospital visits having been restricted, he had been forced to telephone relatives to tell them about the death of a family member.
‘Ringing someone to tell them that their relative has passed away is not a very nice job to do and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone because what can you say? It’s difficult face-to-face, never mind over the phone, especially when all you’re getting back is silence,’ he said. ‘At least when you’re in front of them, you can console them but when they’re on the other end of the phone, it’s near impossible.
‘To tell someone that they can’t come in to visit is also difficult but, at the same time, these measures are in place to keep everybody safe.’
He also sought to reassure Islanders that they should ‘not be scared’ to seek help from healthcare professionals and that they should attend their appointments, as the Hospital had been made ‘as safe as possible’.
‘As a hospital, we’re working hard to keep business as normal as much as we can and encourage people to come into the Hospital because it is safe,’ he said.
‘If you are unwell and you do need to see a doctor, then make sure that you do that. In the long run, leaving conditions for longer might have an impact, not just on the services that we provide but on a person’s long-term health too. The precautions are here. If we didn’t think it was safe, then we would cancel appointments so I would encourage anybody to make sure they attend their appointments and to see healthcare professionals where they need to.’
Full interview: Pages 6 and 7 of today’s [1 February] JEP.